2020 Undergraduate Public Health Awards

Award for Academic Excellence in Public Health 

Dana Rubenstein

Dana Rubenstein

I have received such wonderful mentoring during my time studying public health at Brown and I am very grateful for that! The faculty members I have worked with have pushed me to succeed and facilitated opportunities for me to present at national conferences, publish papers, and most importantly, help others.

I will be attending the Duke University School of Medicine this fall. I am in the Primary Care Leadership Track and plan to continue my work in population health research and community engagement. 

The most important public health lesson that I will take from Brown is that health disparities are glaringly unjust and we must address them, especially during difficult times such as this pandemic.


Awards for Excellence in Public Health Honors Thesis

Bella Ehrlich

Bella Ehrlich

Thesis: Palliative Care Integration in Pediatric Oncology: Alignment of Physician Perspectives with WHO Guidelines in 11 Eurasian Countries

Some of my fondest memories of my public health experience at Brown have been the thought-provoking, intellectually stimulating conversations with my peers that have continued from inside to outside of the classroom. I have left so many of my classes debating how best to tackle modern medical problems, which interventions have been most effective at addressing social determinants of health, and what we see as the future of American healthcare, and it is these conversations that will forever resonate with me. 

In the upcoming fall, I am starting my first year at Alpert Medical School at Brown University and hope to pursue a career in pediatrics and global health. 

The most important public health lesson that I have taken away is that medical innovations must evolve alongside public health interventions that address the disadvantages faced by marginalized communities, yet that public health work inherently requires a multidisciplinary effort. Ranging from economists to medical professionals to anthropologists, the development of effective strategies requires an interdisciplinary team. 

Emily Zhu

Emily Zhu

Thesis: An Evaluation of Connect for Health: A Social Referral Program in Rhode Island

My fondest public health memory at Brown was getting the opportunity to study abroad in Switzerland learning about global health and development policy. Being able to visit global health organizations like the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières was extremely interesting and opened my eyes to a different area of public health that I had not previously explored. 

This coming fall I am planning to pursue a Master of Science in Public Health and Health Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health! 

This past year interviewing and speaking with community members about their experience with Connect for Health lent me a greater understanding into the broader structural barriers people face when accessing health care. Moving forward, I hope to continue to elevate community voices in policy-making decisions and take a grassroots level approach when building public health programs and interventions. 

Ana Lucia Espinosa Dice

Ana Lucia Espinosa Dice

Thesis: Quantifying Clinic Transfers Among People Living with HIV in the Western Cape, South Africa: A Spatial Analysis

I want to thank you to my thesis advisors for their consistent support and energy. I am so appreciative of my Brown undergraduate education through the School of Public Health and am thrilled to be spending another year here at Brown completing the 5th-year Masters in Biostatistics.

To this day, I vividly remember attending the Providence Women’s March my sophomore year and running into many of my public health professors. That moment solidified for me the purpose of my public health education and the value of the School of Public Health community – that our research and studies should always be evidence-based but community- and action-oriented. Thank you to my mentors, professors, colleagues, friends, and family for shaping what has become for me the education of a lifetime! 

Benjamin Ahmad

Benjamin Ahmad

Thesis: ENDS and Young Adults: A mixed methods exploration of the influence of online marketing on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) use and perceived health effects in young adult

While I have had so many wonderful experiences during my time in the public health program, my fondest memory is definitely writing my thesis over the past year. My experiences in tobacco prevention and cessation in high school encouraged me to study Public Health at Brown, so it was an honor to explore some of the drivers and consequences of young adult vaping in developing my thesis. I particularly enjoyed building a survey from the ground up and using both qualitative and quantitative methods to develop multifaceted conclusions. I ran into a variety of roadblocks in working on my thesis, but built invaluable problem solving, analytical, and communication skills as a result. I look forward to applying these skills no matter how I decide to advocate for public health moving forward. 

After spending a few weeks at home in Pennsylvania, I will begin working as a Litigation Legal Assistant at a corporate law firm in New York City. As someone who hopes to eventually pursue a legal degree to help improve health/healthcare quality and equity, I look forward to learning more about the legal field in this role. Beginning a job during the COVID-19 pandemic will certainly present its challenges, but I am excited to get started!

The biggest lesson that I will bring with me is that health outcomes are largely driven by social determinants. Since first being introduced to social determinants of health in my Introduction to Public Health course in 2016, I have seen how factors like racial identity, the built environment, and socioeconomic status can prevent many from taking part in behaviors that public health campaigns encourage (i.e. healthy eating). Unfortunately, it seems like the health and medical communities are just beginning to acknowledge the importance of social determinants. But hopefully with a growing number of public health and health equity advocates, social determinants will be given more attention in the future.